Expecting his child(3)

By: Leanne Banks

"If you'd told me, you wouldn't have had to do anything alone," he told her.

Martina's heart hurt as a dozen memories slammed through her. "We knew when we got involved that it couldn't last. You said we could pretend while we were in Chicago. You never talked about a future with me because you knew there wouldn't be one."

He rested his hands on his hips. "The baby changes things."

Her stomach sank at the determination in his voice. "For me and maybe for you, but not for us."

"You should have told me."

"Yes, well, I had to get used to the idea first. And having my brothers find out a Coltrane was the father…" She broke off and grimaced at the memory of that confrontation.

"What'd they do?" Noah asked. "Look at you like you were giving birth to the anti-Christ?"

"At first," she said. "But I set them straight."

"Who did you tell them was the father?"

"I told them the stork did it," she said, but the flip remark didn't work its charm. "When you showed up at my brother's wedding like the Lone Ranger, it became difficult to deny paternity." She took a careful breath. "I have handled this on my own. I got through the shock and morning sickness and everything else on my own. I'm strong. I can handle the rest alone, too."

He gave a wry half smile that somehow looked dangerous. "We never got around to discussing children, but I have some definite opinions on the subject. The first is that the parents should be married. You and I should marry as soon as possible."

Martina gaped at him. If he hadn't been dead serious, she would have laughed. "You must not have heard me. I have put up with three domineering men in my life – my father and brothers – and I am not interested in tying myself till death do us part to another."

"This baby deserves two parents. Both of us will want to be involved in raising the child. I don't walk away from my responsibilities."

There wasn't an ounce of give in his voice, but he struck on one issue she'd been unable to resolve in her heart and mind. Martina wanted the best for her child, but she couldn't marry Noah. "We can work out visitation," she began, trying to pump conviction into her tone.

"That's another thing that's stupid. It's crazy for you to live alone here in Dallas when you can live at my family ranch."

Everything inside her balked. "Now I know you're insane. Have you forgotten that my family home borders your property? Do you think my brothers and your brothers are going to have a party over this? I don't think so. Plus, there is the Logan curse. Women bearing the Logan name have shown an annoying tendency to kick the bucket when they fall in love and get married. I'll admit I never thought the curse applied to me, but on the off chance that it does, I have a pretty powerful reason to stay alive and healthy. My baby."

Noah stood there silently. He looked as if he was reining himself in, processing every word she'd said. Planning.

Martina felt a sinking sensation, but kept her back ramrod straight. She was no sissy, she told herself. She could handle Noah Coltrane.

"We'll talk again," he said, pulling out a pen and business card and scratching some numbers on the back of it. "If you need anything, anything at all, call me. Cell number's on the back." He met her gaze again. "You said your family curse means a Logan woman will die when she marries. You forget. When you marry me, you won't be a Logan woman. You'll be a Coltrane."

"When cows do algebra," she fumed as she watched Noah walk out her door. "I'll be a Coltrane when Texans stop arguing over water rights, when your brothers and my brothers give each other big hugs, which will be never," she continued, even though she was only talking to the air that Noah had breathed and the space he had invaded. His presence was still disturbing even though he was gone. "I'll be a Coltrane when the stars fall over West Texas."

* * *

Noah had so much adrenaline pumping through his veins that he could easily have snapped the steering wheel of his Tahoe in half. He had impregnated the most unreasonable, stubborn woman in Texas, and he had a feeling it was going to take everything he had to corral her and bring her and the baby to the Coltrane ranch where they belonged.

A part of him wondered if the Indian mystic in him had sensed something important had happened to Martina. He wondered if that was what had kept him awake nights. Although Noah knew he was the most modern of the Coltranes, he also suspected the trace of Indian blood in his veins gave him instincts not so easily explained.

He sighed in disgust. It would be nice if those Indian instincts could provide something more useful than a sleepless night, something like an easy way to win Martina over.

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